When Pope Benedict XVI called for the beginning of the Year of Faith, many skeptics started asking why is there a need to have a year to focus on faith. Shouldn’t every day be a day of faith…what happens when it concludes on 24 November 2013? Well, it is like asking why do we need to celebrate special days dedicated to mothers, fathers, teachers, etc….shouldn’t we be celebrating them every day? I guess if we were to celebrate these special days every day, then they lose their effectiveness. As the saying goes,-, familiarity breeds contempt!
In his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei (Door of Faith) of 11 October 2011, the Holy Father sees this coming year as a great opportunity to rediscover Jesus, as this year “summons [us] to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Saviour of the world”(n. 6). In other words, the Year of Faith will be an opportunity for Catholics to re-experience a conversion, to re-set our eyes back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The key to understanding this Year of Faith is to enter more deeply into a relationship with Jesus which corresponds to the theme that the Church in Peninsular Malaysia chose after the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention, which is, Deepening our Discipleship. There will never be a moment in our lives where we can say that we have reached the climax of our faith. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to discover this God whom we know and yet do not know fully.
Most of our dioceses and parishes will be organising events to help us in this process of deepening our faith in Jesus and there are two attitudes that we could possibly take as we enter into this year. In the words of Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” The optimist will see this Year of Faith as a great opportunity to engage with God whereas the pessimist will see this as energy draining and time consuming to take part in the activities. Despite the many challenges and even obstacles that we face not only in the world today but also in our daily lives, we must enter into this Year of Faith believing that change is possible – a change that starts from within ourselves calling us to believe that every single person can make a difference. Here I am reminded of the great Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
We may not have everything planed out for our lives at the beginning of the Year of Faith but if we are willing to move out of our comfort zones and take little steps towards Jesus, we will surely experience the immense love of God.